Mexico City – The leader of the La Familia drug cartel was arrested by the Federal Police in the central Mexican state of Aguascalientes, officials said.
Jesus Mendez was captured Tuesday and no one was injured during the police operation, National Security Council technical secretary Alejandro Poire said.
The arrest of Mendez "destroys the command structure of the criminal organization," the federal security spokesman said.
Mendez, known as "El Chango," was "responsible for murders, kidnappings, extortion (and) corruption," Poire said, adding that the suspect also staged attacks on officials and citizens.
Mendez's arrest is the latest blow to La Familia Michoacana, whose ideological leader, Nazario Moreno, known as "El Chayo," was killed in a shootout with Federal Police last year, Poire said.
The security forces have arrested several cartel bosses in the past few weeks, the federal security spokesman said.
President Felipe Calderon's administration remains committed to fighting Mexico's drug cartels, Poire said.
Calderon deployed thousands of army troops and Federal Police officers across Mexico to fight criminal organizations after taking office in December 2006.
Mendez's capture is a "great blow by the Federal Police against organized crime," Calderon said in a posting on Twitter.
The cartel boss was "one of the most-wanted criminals" in Mexico, Calderon said.
La Familia, which is based in the southern state of Michoacan, was created in 2006 and has a pseudo-religious ideology, portraying itself as the defender of the state's residents.
Michoacan has been experiencing a wave of drug-related violence blamed on the break-up of La Familia, which was considered one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels.
La Familia Michoacana began unraveling after Moreno's death in December 2010, analysts told Efe.
La Familia's members have formed rival gangs that are battling for control of the state.
The La Familia faction led by Mendez is battling the faction led by Servando Gomez and Enrique Plancarte, who formed the Los Caballeros Templarios gang in March, journalists from Michoacan told Efe.
Los Caballeros Templarios was apparently behind the 23 killings over the weekend in Michoacan.
A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and nearly 40,000 people have died since Calderon declared war on the country's cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.